The 4 Power Positions and how to use them in meetings

Where you choose to sit shows your status. What are you unwittingly revealing about yourself as you sit in meetings?

Most people unknowingly adopt a role at the meeting table.   However, there are some players who’ll consciously decide what impact they want and choose where to sit accordingly.

If you want to have more choice on how you play on this type of stage, let’s decode the 4 Power Positions that impact on involvement.

Power Position 1

The First Power Position is occupied by the person who’s (supposed to be be) steering the meeting.  It provides a clear view of everyone including whoever is entering the room.  Think back to 100,000 years ago when you lived in a cave.  You’d never have your back to the opening, in case a cave bear wanted to nudge you out the way.  So seats facing the door (think modern offices) are always a prime position.

Power can be quiet so it doesn’t mean you’re the most vocal.  In this position you may be :

  1. raising issues;
  2. bringing speakers in;
  3. setting procedures;
  4. summing up.


Power Position 2

This is Power Position 2 – usually reserved for second-in-command.

Because the position is directly opposite the Chairperson, this seating could be used to launch combat, especially in tricky negotiations or internal meetings where there’s a power struggle.

If the Chairperson wishes to avoid such situation in the case they may be likely, the following pictures will give you ideas for alternatives.





The Middle Positions

This seat is ideal for chairing when there are no seats at the head of the meeting.


It’s also a handy position for rounding up, mediating and summarising.  This is because you can see everyone’s bright shiny faces.  And when they look glum, bored or combative, you can use your radar vision and central placing to politely ask:  “Do we have enough time for the other 15 items that are on the agenda in our 30 minute meeting.”  (The answer will hopefully be ‘afraid not’).


This seat is useful taking a low profile.  Don’t want to voice your opinion?  Sit here.  Don’t want to be the centre of attention?  Choose this seat. Want to size up the situation and observe others?  Park your bum in this place.



Flanking Positions

On the Chairperson’s right, indicated by the green disc, is the person to whom they look for guidance

On their left, indicated by the yellow disc, sits ‘the leader’s assistant’.  This is a good position from which to:

  • gently remind where you’re up to in the meeting
  • speed up the meeting or slow it down.


…and there are 2 techniques for this role, one that will make you cherished at every meeting because it keeps everyone to the point and stops time wasting.  But more on that in later posts.

Have a go

One of my workshop participants in Managing Up, Down and Sideways, told me they’d had a client meeting with this arrangement: seats 2 and 3 were taken up by her and her colleague, both partners in a Law firm, with seat number 8 offered to a client who was already disgruntled before the meeting and completely dissatisfied by the end.

You’ll see the partners have put themselves towards the door and the client has his back to it.  They’re also on the same side, which makes a metaphorical statement.

Where would you put the client, yourself and the partner, if the client was visiting your office?  Bear in mind that there may be more than one answer.











You’ll find that Power Positions can also apply in social gatherings?  Notice someone dominating?  Observe where they’re sitting.  See the one trying to keep a low profile?  Look at their position.

The 7 faces of managers

There's more than one version of you

There’s more than one version of you

The ability to wear different hats is essential for anyone managing others. You don’t have to have an acting background but you will need to know how to play 7 different roles, which are as follows:

1.  Leader

In industrial sectors and economies a foreman would be making sure everyone adheres to a system, and organise processes and people. In the knowledge economy management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define a purpose: managers must organize workers, not just to maximise efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.


2. Catalyst

A manager has to make things happen but through other people. They need to motivate in order to be able to delegate. Sometimes, thus feels like pinning down a fish because what propels individuals to action isn’t set in stone. Honing in on what makes individuals tick is a necessary skill that you can develop.


3. Coach

Your team members may need your guidance. Sometimes it’s quicker to do it yourself (got children? Then you’ll know what I mean). The problem with that is they’ll be hanging off your Herman Miller chair and no amount of rotating will shake them off since you’ve just developed co-dependants. Put a bit of coaching in upfront and you’ll free up your time later.


4. Observer

To make progress, you need to note what’s going on and how people operate in that paradigm. Then decide how to interact in that world. Whether you need to change your leadership style or the way you influence depends on the status quo you observe. Change is a constant so by keeping your eyes and ears open, you’ll find a way to optimise your teams.


5. Peer

You could look on and tell your team what to do or roll up your sleeves and collaborate. Looking on develops a ‘them and us’ situation. There are times when professional distance will not win respect but resentment. Collaboration engenders greater respect and shows that you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.


6. Supporter

A supporter provides support. If you already guessed that, well done to you.

Delegation isn’t always just a matter of sending people off to work on a project or task. You may be the one with budget and resources they need. Support can come in the way of feedback, structure, equipment, being a sounding board, providing space and time to your people. Either way, delegation is not a matter of ditching responsibility. Even if you do let go of the reins, you need to know where they are.


7. Challenger

To get the best out of people, a certain level of challenge could keep them on their toes.

Without challenge, individuals can coast, sacrificing the resourcefulness that’s necessary in shifting sands. It also reflects a level of faith in people when you encourage them to reach beyond themselves. Do make sure that this aspiration for them, though, matches the one they have for themselves otherwise you’ll need to sell it more.


Have you got anything to add to these roles? Is there one I’ve omitted?

Feel free to let me know in the comments…

How to avoid a damp squib ending to your presentation

Sudden endings can ruin a presentation

Sudden endings can ruin a presentation

The end of a presentation can feel very much like falling off a cliff: you’ve got some solid content that you tread through,  then suddenly there’s nothing.   Often you’ll find yourself calling into the gap beyond with ‘Any questions?’

Although dealing with questions is a separate post,  one way to avoid this call into the abyss is to ask a question that reinforces your key point, such as:

“I’m often asked whether we need to change strategy at all if what we have is getting us by.   And that’s the point… We can more than ‘get by’:  diversifying  offers an exciting opportunity to grow,  learn and secure a more profitable future.  Who wouldn’t want that?”

The 3 point closure provides a neat conclusion, using a rhetorical question as the full stop.   Do ensure that the key message re-emphasises what’s in it for your audience.

Avoid self-aggrandising ‘questions’, as in the following example:

‘People ask me why I’m so brilliant.   It’s partly nature and a bit of nurture.   Thanks and goodbye’.

Looks like there’s a humility drought here in a desert of ego.   Where’s the reinforcement of audience benefit?

This is not dissimilar from a real example I recall from a motivational speaker:

“People ask me how they can be more like me…” I can’t remember the rest.  I think I was out the room by then.


A word about the 3 point closure:

The three point closure allows for a distinctive end to your presentation.   This avoids having it hanging incomplete in the ether, leaving your audience confused as to whether you’ve finished or not.

For example in Winston Churchill’s famous blood,  sweat and tears speech, what he actually said was “I can promise you Blood, Sweat, Toil and Tears”.   We lost the toil and actually only recall ‘blood,  sweat and tears’  for the same reason that we remember ‘A Mars a day helps you work,  rest and play’. (or ‘your teeth rot away’ although that calls upon rhythm and rhyme more as a mnemonic).


To sum up:

  1. Ask a question that reinforces the key benefit to the audience
  2. Use a rule of 3 within the answer
  3. You can also add devices like rhetorical questions or quotes to provide a clear ending.

So these 3 devices will give your words more weight….and who wouldn’t want that?!


Tell us about the time when…

Increase your impact with the S.T.A.R. structure

Job interviews are all about being able to tell a riveting story.   What’s on your CV isn’t enough in itself,  besides you have relevant experience that’s you probably haven’t even put on there.

Thank goodness you’re more than typed words on 2 sides of A4.

Now it’s time to get that across with enough impact to stand out from the competition.

Giving clear, succinct answers to challenge and achievement questions

Mixing up the personal with the professional in your interview responses  helps you be remembered more easily.   If you have a tale of transformation as a CIO,  that would tick a box but not necessarily make you stand out from the crowd.

It’s personal examples that help the interviewer realise other aspects of your character and ability,  giving you more chance to express your uniqueness.

As long as these anecdotes meet a competency,  drop them in.

To increase your impact,  use the STAR structure below to ensure that you really grab the chance to show an interviewer who you are.



Describe the background,  giving the reason for the example.

“I’d decided to raise money for charity when my grandfather lost his sight. I’m a climber so scaling up Snowdon to raise cash for the Royal National Institute of the Blind was appealing.”


The objective – what you had to do in the context, if applicable, of your team.Star

“My objective was to raise £1,000 through Kickstarter and social media campaigns.   My climbing partner, Danny and I would be doing this in winter – during the night – and abseil down at dawn.”



What I did – if there are challenges and obstacles this is an opportune time to mention them. At this point, use more ‘I’, then ‘we’.  I’m not hiring your team, just you.  If you give other too much credit, it’s their number I want, not yours:

Our campaign had also been some months in preparation as my climbing partner,  Danny,  and I hit social media and I initiated a Kickstarter campaign.

“I train regularly in the outdoors anyway so physically Danny and I were fine.  We got to Snowdon and started climbing in the freezing dark.   A sudden downfall made our tread slightly more risky but there’s nothing like bad weather to focus you.  When we eventually abseiled down the mountain,  we were exhausted and elated.



The Outcome – what did you learn or/and achieve from this experience? Are there statistics or valuable lessons that you gained? How about any insights?

“The result was that I’d aimed to raise £1,000 for the Royal Institute of the Blind, but raised £12,000 in the end. That’s 12 times more than I could have imagined.  What helped me was the fact that I had planned extremely thoroughly, wasn’t afraid to use the resources I already had and that a challenge doesn’t put off: in fact it motivates me.”


Examples of other tales, ripe for the STAR structure:

Here are some other personal examples I’ve heard in job interviews:

  1. Canoed up the Panama trekked through the rain forest and sped down to Chile: on a tractor (used for a banking candidate – shows resourcefulness,  risk-taker)
  2. Organised 2 weddings both for my sister: Catholic and Hindu including have to gain permission for a ceremonial  fire in the Café Royal London (for an engineering interviewee, demonstrates project planning,  initiative)
  3. Worked as a journalist for a university publication,  interviewing MPs,  bands,  general public  (for an IT consultant, proving confidence in communication skills).

If you want help telling your story get in touch with me directly right here.

Do you make these 9 common management mistakes?


BlindleadingblindsmallTake any project you’ve worked on and think back.  How could it have been better?

There’s so much you can learn from a job done badly that I’ve compiled a list, which is by no means exhaustive.  There are many ways a project can be dragged out,  botched up,  and overshoot the budget.

My engineering clients chipped in with this compilation and you can apply the following situations across all technical realms.

Let me know below:  what have I missed?

  1. Too many clashing agendas from all the business partners
    The problem is many leaders don’t use their communication skills to sort out conflicting aims before they become a problem.  Negotiating and setting expectations are key.
  2. Too many people at meetings that don’t stick to the point
    It’s pretty unlikely that a 2 hour meeting really does involve 15 people.  Pick out what’s relevant for whom and only have them present.  ‘Meetings’ can be just as effective one a one-to-one basis, while the kettle’s on.
  3. Too many meetings or lack of agenda and actionable outcomes
    Sometimes the outcome of the meetings is….another meeting.  Who’s doing what by when?  Do they have the capability and know-how?  Have you checked they have the resources?  Individuals need varying levels of delegation and nothing’s going to get done if they need more from you and it’s not given or benchmarked.
  4. Mismatching the skill set with the role, e.g., process engineer delivering electrical deliverables.  It’s like hiring a nuclear physicist as a lawyer.  (Of course, they could probably blow up the opposition for you but I’m not sure it’s legal where you are).
  5. Lack of or incomplete scope of work
    I bet you know this one:  Client:  ‘Here’s the job.’  1 month later:  Client ‘I forgot to add this.’  2 weeks later…’There’s this as well.’  Then they get rankled when you mention pricing and delay of completion.  Part of the issue is the way information is extracted from the client / partner.  It comes down to asking the right questions.  Another point is that managers may take little time out to think how lessons learned in the past can be integrated into the current project.
  6. Roles and responsibilities ill -defined
    Team friction is often due do the scope of the project changing (see no.5 above). Roles and responsibilities shift, causing ambivalence and conflict.
  7. Absence of risk mitigation or contingency planning
    Not reflecting on lessons learned from previous projects dulls the foresight you need to spot and mitigate risks.
  8. Exchanging personnel on a regular basis
    Not everyone does hand overs well, and some staff don’t do hand overs at all so subsequent team members have no idea what’s what.  All you can rely on is management being in the know.  They’ll possibly be out of the loop on small details that can make a big difference unless they’re in close proximity to their teams.  If you know you’re going to have to change people round, ensure the right people are involved when the baton’s passed.
  9. Lack of control of work done resulting considerable amounts of rework
    If the hand is off the steering wheel, the car will end up in a ditch (if you’re lucky).  Likewise, letting projects run without a detailed schedule, risk management and a more collaborative approach, results in having to backing up and follow a new road from the beginning. This adds to cost and time.


Management is sometimes leading, other times collaborating, and balancing that with knowing when to step back. .

What’s missing?  Add your own experiences below!  Looking forward to seeing them…


3 ways to tap your creativity at work

six senses dan pink

From ‘A Whole New Mind’ by Daniel Pink

Why Creativity is Important

For CEOs, creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business, outweighing even integrity and global thinking, according to a study by IBM. The study is the largest known sample of one-on-one CEO interviews, with over 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations and 33 industries polled on what drives them in managing their companies in today’s world.

One of the challenges that specialists in IT, Finance and Engineering encounter is that they feel the pressure of conforming to a process oriented culture.  Mind-numbingly boring meetings and tick boxing seems to work against being resourceful.

This suppresses the creative thinking that is needed to:

  • generate ideas, whether this is introducing a new product or the applications of coding
  • increase team collaboration in problem solving such as those needed for engineering teams needing to work out operational issues


The Price of Pressure

In the U.S. and UK, 80% of people felt increasing pressure to be productive rather than creative, while the number rose as high as 85% in France.

Yet, with the ground constantly shifting and competitors looming creative thinking is vital.

If you want to breathe life into idea generation and problem solving, use techniques that very few of your competitors are using: theatre based play and visual games.


You don't have to cross-dress to be creative.

You don’t have to cross-dress to be creative.

The Androgyny of the Mind

“A great mind must be androgynous.”  Samuel Taylor Coleridge

You may be relieved (or frustrated) to know that it’s not necessary to do a David Bowie at work.   Regardless, the androgyny that Coleridge was talking about is the ability to access both the analytical and creative, in order to generate solutions and ideas.

If you feel more comfortable with the word ‘resourceful’, then it’s that quality you can be tapping into.   Here  are three suggestions that have been really successful in increasing resourcefulness, with a wide range of teams in IT, Engineering and Finance.

These ideas can be used at the beginning of sessions to shift the thinking from analytical to creative/resourceful and get everyone thinking ‘out the box’



       1. Word Association:

The mind starts to make weird and humorous connections with this game: just what you need to start thinking more expansively.  Simply begin a story with one word and the next person adds another word, triggered but not necessarily connected to the previous word.  Expand it to 2 words per person, then to three.  You can eventually build this up to phrases that make a story.

Unexpected neurological links are formed during this type of ‘play’.  This will impact on problem solving in that you’ll truly start to think more resourcefully as new neurological pathways are formed.

2. Ordinary Objects, Abnormal Use:

Have a pool of objects at hand.   Using a hoop:  one participant jumps into the circle, picks up a hoop: the hoop can be a window; the next person jumps in and the hoop becomes a hole in the road.  Then someone else makes it a giant bangle.

The point is no-one is rejecting ideas, as everyone’s offer is built on what’s gone before.  A common problem with brainstorming is that ‘bad’ ideas are too often rejected.  You need ‘bad’ ideas to get to the top of the pyramid, where the ‘good’ one is.

Had Dr Spencer Silver actually come up with a super strong adhesive, the Post-It Note – made from his ‘failed’ weak version – would never have been invented.

Sometimes, we go ‘wrong’.  And this is absolutely right.

3. Brainwriting:

Write an idea on a piece of paper.  Fold the paper into an aeroplane and throw it across the circle to someone else.  The recipient then adds to that suggestion by writing it in the plane, folding it back and throwing it to someone else.

This stops conversation from being sidetracked and encourages everyone’s equal contribution of ideas, whether introverted or extroverted.


The problem with ‘brainstorming sessions’ is they often muddy two types of thinking: divergent and convergent.  Divergent thinking generates ideas.  Convergent thinking sorts and analyses these ideas towards the best outcome but ideas are often judged and thrown out before the best solution is found.

Improvisation and play can create excellent ground for divergent thinking before input is screened, tweaked and filtered.


I would love to hear how you encourage Divergent thinking in your own departments and to what effect.  What did you find useful?  What changes did you see?  Did your team start to work differently as a result?  Let me know below!


10 Myths of Presentation and Public Speaking

  1. images[2]I’m better off winging it
    The problem with improvisation is that it’s terribly haphazard!  You’ll need some landmarks to stop you going off track.  A mind map can help to plan points without scripting.
  2. I need to write out my full speech before I speak
    Do you?  What a hassle!  A script can take longer to write than notes and is much more difficult to edit.  Even more importantly, we don’t speak as we write:  the language may be different and sentences are usually shorter
  3. …and then memorise it
    Hence the cause of crippling nerves and blanking out!  Make life easy on yourself: remember where you’re going and where you’ve been and you’ll find it easier to know where you are now without having to memorise anything
  4. Nerves are bad for Presentations and Pitches
    Actually, if you can control your nerves instead of letting them control you, the nerves become adrenalin.  In time, you’ll learn to enjoy the freedom of speaking in public (yes, I did say ‘enjoy’!).   Techniques to do this, include breathing, anchoring and visualisation.  More about this in future blogs.
  5. Make eye contact
    Merely looking up from your cue cards or taking a break from your PowerPoint is not making eye contact.  Getting a response from people by looking at them is.
  6. Begin with a joke
    Unless you are a comedian, try something a bit safer.  There are other, surer ways to make your audience comfortable and get a response, like those on the spice rack in this brochure.  Humour is often in integral part of a familiar situation but shouldn’t be treated as a technique of its own.
  7. You can’t change your voice
    Your voice is as unique as your fingerprint.  But you can change it by enlarging its scope in range, speaking on different pitches, making it resonant and using different rhythms, and clarifying your articulation.  It takes training and practice.
  8. Always introduce yourself at the beginning
    Think of how many times you’ve been out  and got talking to someone.  10 minutes later, you realise you don’t know each others’ names.  A presentation or pitch works the same way:  first grab attention, then say who you are.  It also makes you calmer as it reflects what we naturally do when chatting to people.
  9. ‘He’s a natural.’
    Just because a person has the ability to get up and talk before a group of people does not necessarily make this person an effective speaker.  If a speaker is effective, s/he has most likely prepared over a length of time, gathering creative, pertinent material that have personal importance.  Then s/he puts orders those thoughts clearly, using methods to engage an audience.
  10. Squeeze your buttocks
    OK, maybe this isn’t a common myth but I heard someone suggesting this during a radio interview. How I wish he’d been on television so that we could see him walking around like he had a bad case of haemorrhoids.  The rationale for buttock squeezing is that it stops women getting shaky legs when speaking and men should squeeze their thighs, for the same reason.  The speaker obviously wasn’t a performer otherwise he’d have used some more useful methods.

If you want to know how to stop shaking limbs, you’ll find the answer right here!

How companies crush creativity

CreativityblocksEven when companies know the value of creativity, they unwittingly block it from happening.

Here are some of the subtle and more obvious ways creative problem solving is squashed like a rat under a rhino.


1.  No time to be creative

If people are rushing from one meeting to another and are overworked, they’ve no time to throw around ideas.  Downtime to think laterally, speak to people and have those coffee machine chats is where stuff gets solved, initiated and created.  Stillness and play are, for the most part, under-rated and misunderstood in business.


2.  Boring meetings

No results and deviating from the agenda don’t help.    Look here for how you can keep people to the point.  Meetings without energy mean that people have to work extra hard at shaking off the lethargy.  Part of the problem is that brainstorming meetings are confused with ones where information simply needs to be given, thereby crushing any vitality that may have been floating in the ether.


3.  Contracts don’t last as long as the cycle of the project

This means staff won’t even see the outcome of their designs so they will have little care about contributing to how the end looks. Furthermore, a lack of job security can affect the ability to think differently:  people will be more concerned with redoing their CVs.


4.  Demanding on the small stuff

Sweating the small stuff can be crucial but is more often a comfort blanket. Preoccupation with detail can delay reaching goals and result in bags of wasted time.


5.  ‘Yes but’

There are a thousand excuses for not being creative. Some organisations prefer to stick with the familiar old devils.   Changing – even if it makes more business sense – seems like too much of a hassle.


6.  Pressure for results

Too much stress on delivering outcomes rather than allowing time to test and tweak can mean relying on some half-baked idea from last time.  Oh well, keep your fingers crossed and hope, this time, it works.


7.  No allocation of resources

Time’s the big one but people, equipment and money may come into play as well.


8.  Too many ideas floating around and not captured centrally  

It’s fun coming up with ideas but how are they captured and seen through to realisation?  Innovation is creativity captured and made into something. Otherwise, it’s just an exercise in free thinking which isn’t bad in itself but may not result in the Next Big Thing.


9.   Demoralising environment

No natural light; sticking the kitchen half way down the corridor; lack of comfortable seating areas; screens everywhere: basically, a modern-day workhouse.


10.  Lack of cohesion between people

Too much tribalism between departments results in a limited way of approaching issues.  Groups that have no spirit of cohesion or too much fear and negativity around them will be very hesitant about giving their ideas, or building upon those of others.


Look here to see what other companies like Intuit and 3M are doing to make creativity lead to innovative, money-making ideas.


The 3 Communication Pitfalls for Technical Experts

hidingbehindscreenSome time ago, I walked into a client’s office to ask who the new CTO was:  all I could see was the top of his head behind the barricade of 2 massive computer screens.

Was he expecting a volley of fire from enemy territory or did I catch him in a game of hide and seek?

Whatever the reasons for his visual masking, one of the Directors seemed a bit concerned:  how’s he going to forge links with other departments and sell up services?  We only see him between the cracks of his fortress.

The new CTO seemed to be under the impression that for anything more than a face to half-face meeting, an email would suffice: a clear example of the challenges with which technical experts struggle, when they suddenly need to manage people, push strategy and develop business links.

Here are some of the 3 main obstacles these specialists need to overcome:


Over reliance on email

Sitting behind a screen shooting off emails or slugging through reports can have a pay off: firstly you don’t have to get up,  except for coffee,  the phone or the loo and secondly,  you are protected from the vagaries of pesky humans.

Unfortunately,  you can’t use an instruction manual to help you navigate their utter unpredicted lack of perceived rationale,  the proof of which lies in that email you’re replying to now.  You know as you press ‘send’  it’s like throwing a missile but sod it.  A point has to be made and you’ll be making it.

Unfortunately,  that email is not really a missile but a leaky boat –  and you’re both in it.

The best way to really ‘get’ what someone’s intention is by seeing them.  So if you want to get through those choppy little waves,  you better row yourself over to their desk and save yourself a mauling by a shark later on.


Too much detail

That PowerPoint with the 70 slides,  accompanied by aerial and close up photos of the processor you’re proud of is going to bore the pants off commercial when they see it.

They know you know your stuff, they just don’t know how it’ll affect them.  To know how much to tell them seems like a telepathic skills. However, all that’s necessary is that you find out what their problem is and how you can be the solution.  To do that,  ask and the way will be obvious.


Not communicating the bigger picture

Having mixed commercial and technical teams in workshops is always an eye opener: they realise that they’ve been working with only half a map in front of them.   Neither has the full picture and both realise how much they benefit from the missing half.

Management don’t communicate the bigger picture to tech teams: they think it either doesn’t concern them or they don’t care to know.   So,  technical teams need to be more proactive.   Ask questions such as:

  1. How does this affect the business in the long run?
  2. What difference will it make to you when this is completed?
  3. What’s  the rationale for this?

The last question could be replaced by ‘Why? But that could provoke a defensive reaction,  especially in email.

The developers and coders need this information – and want it – so it’s important to ensure that the context is filtered through the teams.

Once this information is clear,  tell everyone –  not just the decision makers.   Knowing why we do what we do and what difference it can make,  means teams can be more proactive and driven.


What other specific communication challenges do you think technical experts have?

Let me know right here…

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Why stories work

tell them your story

A story replaces information overload

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today,”

(Robert McAfee Brown)

There are two ways to share knowledge: either you can push information out or you can pull people in with a story.

Whether you need to sell a product or change behaviour, stories are vital to your success.  Here you’ll find 5 reasons why having an anecdote up your sleeve will immediately change how people perceive you.

1. Stories can simplify the complex through a metaphor.

For example, the tale of the pig farmer who realised that overnight his stock was worth half .  On the strength of the potential sale, he’d taken out loans for barn repairs and equipment.  The debts stayed the same but his income was halved, pushing him into further debt.
This story was used to explain the effect of the devaluation of oil in Russia.  A metaphor that those unfamiliar with macro economics would be able to digest.

2.  They make no claims so aren’t threatening.

So instead of saying, ‘If you don’t buy this anti-virus package for your computers, you’ll be in trouble’, you can tell the story of how using BungleBoo Anti Virus system allowed a virus into your computer like water though a sieve, destroying your client base, all your documents and forcing you to have to purchase a watertight new laptop.

3.  Want to change the way someone is doing something? 

Tell them about the time that you didn’t buy travel insurance, broke your legs in Albania and ended up paying an arm and another leg to get home .   Much better than dishing out the advice with ‘you should/shouldn’t’, which just tends to get up people’s noses.

4.  If you want to make a strong point, this becomes easier to internalize and remember by building a sense of anticipation.

When I give short seminars on cross cultural presentations, I tell half the story of Richard, who worked for a large US bank and was trying to tie up a deal in the United Arab Emirates. He had to fly to Abu Dhabi several times before he won the deal.  However, it wasn’t his PowerPoints that won the day but 3 small adjustments he made to how he communicated.  I start the story at the beginning of the presentation, and by the end, they’re dying to know what happened to him so that’s when I complete the tale.

If you make your audience want to know the outcome, they’re more likely to remember it.

Click here to see me telling the story.

5. Fires imagination and provides role models for action.

For those that need a bit of encouragement being resourceful when resources are limited, the story of Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, could be encouraging.  The logo of the Body Shop is entirely down to the fact that when she opened her first shop in Brighton,  it was cheaper and easier to find a green colour to match the mould-riddled signage.  Purchasing new signage wasn’t in her budget.  That decision gave birth to the globally recognised Body Shop brand.

Such a story of resourcefulness can make you think  ‘Goodness, if she can do it, so can I.’

6. Potential customers can identify with an issue and are more likely to then want to buy from you

Instead of ‘selling’ a product or service you give a case study of a problem that existed before e.g. boring presentations or bullish managers.

People can relate to a commonly shared problem and will act on an issue to which they can relate.  If they empathise with it, you only need to say how you’d work with them because they have an instant picture of what you do and the challenges you can help them overcome.
By the way, the tales you tell reflect your experience, knowledge and what’s important to you, adding to your credibility.
And for those of you who say you’ve got no stories, I bet I could help you find one, even if it’s not your own…

Look on the courses page here or contact me and I’ll help you find your story.